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> Breton History, The Revolt of the Chouans
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Posted: 18-Mar-2005, 07:38 PM
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Here is the next instlalment of my series on Breton History. This information was found at: http://www.brittany-bretagne.com/pg/chouans.htm

The revolt of the Chouans

"La Chouannerie"/" Dieu le Roi "

La Chouannerie, peasant warfare, which took place in the West of France between the years 1793 and 1804, begun by the insurrection against the military levying for recruits, the execution of the King Louis XVI, the persecution of the priests who refused the civil Constitution of the clergy, and the taxation of paper money.

This warfare developped parallel to the Vendéen revolt. The most important leaders were Jean Cottereau and his brothers, Boisguy, Boulainvillier, Boishardy, Cadoudal, Antoine de Tremoille. The Chouans owe their name to the "chat-huant" whose hooting was used as a sign of rallying.

This revolt consists of three periods. The first stretching from autumn 1793 to spring 1795. They were few in number and had no logistics, they were badly organised, badly equipped, undernourished and could only lead actions of feeble proportions. The change occurred in the month of October and November 1793, when they were joined by the survivors of the Vendéen army which had just been defeated at Savenay. The Chouans organised themselves around the Vendéens, but also around smugglers no-longer in hiding, and the noble who were making their come-back in France. The English promised a landing of their troops. At the death of Robespierre in July 1794 the young republican proposes an amnesty to the rebels. It?s in spring 1795, that the Chouans sign a treaty of peace with Hoche and obtain liberty of religious worship. (People were only allowed to worship in churches that recognised the Republic.).

Making the most of this peace to arm themselves again, they waited for the landing of the emigrant troops. This happened on the 17th of June 1795, on the beaches of Carnac. The hundred thousand emigrant troops that they had been waiting for, were only ten thousand commanded by Puisaye, Hervilly and Sombreuil, but without the Princes who had abstained. An 20 000 strong army of Chouans in the command of Cadoudal, headed straight for the landing area. However, they had not counted on the presence of Hoche, who had been alerted by the convention, drove them back towards the peninsula of Quiberon. They were made prisoner on the beach of Port Haliguen. They could not go back to sea, since the swell was to heavy, preventing all vessels approaching the coast. The convention refuses to favour them and they are obliged to fight at Quiberon, Auray, Vannes. The moral of the troops is very low, the Chouans are tracked down by Hoche who makes a point of cutting them off from the peasant population, by using the political approach of religious tolerance. A year later, summer 1796, most of them have renounced the fight.

Bretons have the reputation of being stubbord, and they prove it in 1797, because the religious persecutions have started all over again. The Chouans regain their arms and harass the "blues" once again. The methods used for taking hostages among those closely related to the rebels spread widely. The board of directors wish for a complete surrender of the enemies of the country, especially since it was in danger and needed men to defend its fontiers. The warfare intensified, but came to and end in 1800 when Bonaparte restored the freedom of religious worship and put an end to conscription, this in exchange for the submission of the Chouans. The true end of the history of the Chouans, came when Bonaparte ordered the guillotine for Georges Cadoudal, the 23rd of June 1804, a bitter opponent of the future emperor. George Cadoudal, who had been a Chouan right from the beginning had tried to assassinate Bonaparte twice.

Slàn agus beannachd,
Allen R. Alderman

'S i Alba tìr mo chridhe. 'S i Gàidhlig cànan m' anama.
Scotland is the land of my heart. Gaelic is the language of my soul.
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